This is completely unacceptable behavior from anyone aspiring to be an actual leader.
* Trying to design the Yahoo logo herself in a weekend (how hard can it be?)
* Reading a children's book to a room full of employees, to stunned silence
* Disallowing remote employees but building a nursery for her child + nanny. (Do other people get Yahoo! daycare too?)
* Requiring extensive credentials for other people [Gwyneth Paltrow better have a degree!] but not bothering with background reference checks for people she wanted (Henrique de Castro, who cost Yahoo over $100M for a year's worth of shoddy work).
Believe it or not, Jobs had empathy for what the user truly needed, which gave him a killer sense of taste. I feel that's lacking here.
Yes. It's often said that Steve Jobs was an asshole, but that he was an asshole for the right reasons. He was the guy in the room who cared more than anyone else. He wanted everyone else to give as much of a shit as he did, even when it came to seemingly tiny details.
I don't mean to paint a rosy, revisionist, hagiographic coat over his entire legacy, because plenty of his actions burned people in horrible ways. But when he was being micromanager-in-chief, he was usually doing it for a reason.
I admire Jobs for his drive and his vision and his ability to get the best work out of amazing folks but his methods were often terribly inhuman when you really look at them.
Seriously. Are you that dense?
Wozniak was happy to tinker and "just be an engineer at HP". Jobs pushed him to create something that could be marketed and made Woz rich.
And Apple computer wouldn't have happened without Jobs. Get past your hatred of the man as a person -- he was a driving force and made shit happen. Art != Artist.
It seems that Marissa's feeling was that if her users don't already like the exact same things that she likes(as a millionaire living in a fantasy world), then they should learn to start liking them.
Contrast with her hero Jobs.
Also, the investment is way too high to be celeb-driven. It's easy to buy a perfume or a purse or suit or shoes because you like the link to $CELEB. But switching email providers or default search engine? Never happening.
he failed most products. he got a few right. he had lots of cash to burn until he got it right. He cursed anyone who wanted a tablet when he wanted the iphone.
meyer is doing the same. just didn't have the luck jobs had yet.
The word empathy to describe Steve Jobs is not the word I would use at all. Maybe "in tune"?
Why not? With enough different people flipping coins there'll be somebody gets a hundred heads in a row.
Flipping coins suggests everybody is playing the same game with roughly equal odds.
So what is the game here? Releasing new consumer products randomly and hoping they become popular?
When Apple really broke out, PC and electronics manufacturers were still competing with one another based on spec sheets (MHz, RAM, GB, benchmarks, etc. -- whoever has more wins).
Apple went in a different direction, putting more effort into product design and user experience and marketing than its competitors. So it wasn't really a case of coin-flipping, because Apple started playing an entirely different game.
Or perhaps the coin flipping is at a higher level, e.g. trying different broad strategies to get ahead (like putting greater emphasis on design/UX)? Again, nobody else was really trying new strategies, everyone was playing the specs sheet arms race. So, in this case, there weren't enough people flipping coins to invoke the metaphor.
And by the way, Marissa is rude and inconsiderate only to the people under her while she has been very polite and considerate to her superiors where is Steve Jobs has never had superiors :)
Did you read the article? She routinely left people hanging that were often(in terms of social hierarchy) her equals or betters.
>Steve Jobs has never had superiors :)
Steve Jobs had superiors, he just pretended that he didn't. While things clearly worked out for him in the end, this attitude resulted in some hard lessons at different points in his career.
i don't think she considered them "higher" or even equals. I'd like to see her letting the Yahoo board hanging dry for an hour next time they convene to discuss the results :)
She might not consider them to be important, but some of them most certainly were by any objective standard. An executive from one of the largest advertising agencies in the world publicly asked her why she never returns his emails. He was exactly the type of person that the CEO of Yahoo should consider important. If she doesn't someone should show her the fucking door.
Regardless, I'll never give Jobs more credit on the success of Pixar than Catmull, Lasseter, and others who are the true sources of success for that company.
Despite her other failings, she is obviously very smart. People talking about the early life at Google all agree on that.
Which was an action she freely chose to do, of course.
In a manner of speaking. :)
What does what I said have to do with Ayn Rand?
I'm also curious about how Ayn Rand and Plato were thrown into the same group. I remember well that Plato went on and on about his Utopia of the State controlling the lives of everyone, people going to college until they're 32 and so on. Those two are pretty much opposites. And Plato was a titan of human thought? He misunderstood everything Socrates was about and it took us Aristotle being born to somewhat set us back on track. Maybe whoever said that is really into geometry of solids.
Anyone care to throw me a bone? What did I miss? Why did I make Ayn Rand roll in her grave?
I can't speak for the other poster but I imagine that Rand's heroes would not be corruptible, for example, refusing government subsidies on moral grounds or sacrificing their artistic vision for commercial reasons
He doesn't just say "no", he throws the guy down three flights of stairs!
And for some reason she seems to think that the attempted murder of a liberal is an honorable act.
Seems more appropriate for crisis mode than ongoing management. In general there seems to be a modus operandi of "My time is more valuable than yours, so you wait." While this may be true, it's a poor way to manage creatives.
Someone at her level should not be aspiring to be a leader, but should be a leader from the start.
It really depends on how "invariably" she was late. If she was late almost all the time, and by 45 minutes or more each time, then it's patently irresponsible. She should have set a different time for the meeting every week. Or she should have blocked out her schedule to make the time. On the other hand, if she was late maybe 25% of the time, that's a different story. The CEO of a huge corporation is going to be late to a lot of meetings. It's the nature of the job. There isn't enough time in the working day for all the people, situations, and projects she needs to handle.
Having worked every now and then with C-level executives at huge companies, some much bigger than Yahoo, I can tell you that they're often late to meetings. Staff meetings especially, because staff meetings are standing, and standing meetings usually lose in an ad-hoc triage battle against spur-of-the-moment meetings. Almost axiomatically, anyone or anything important enough to hijack a CEO's time is going to be important enough to win the priority battle against a standing staff meeting.
All of that said, "invariably" needs to be defined here. Especially given the circumstances, i.e., requiring all direct reports in various timezones to be there every Monday on Mayer's clock. If it was, indeed, "invariable" -- as in, she was always at least 45 minutes late -- then she should have found a new time for the meeting. That's completely unacceptable.
(Obviously, this is easier said than done. At that level, the politics of moving around direct-reporting lines is going to be a nightmare.)
But I do agree. The complexity of scheduling increases dramatically as the number of timezones N increases. You try the best you can to schedule a standing meeting that accommodates everyone. Someone's going to have to make a sacrifice in convenience. As the leader, you should try to find a time that makes a sacrifice on your end, provided it's not too ridiculous.
Still, I don't see that as "unacceptable" behaviour. It's something to be frowned upon for sure and it would be great if she could be punctual all the time, but being the CEO of an incredibly large and diverse organisation, she could be forgiven if she was late due to some other meeting or work-related issues.
Also, remember she's getting only about 4 hours of sleep everyday and practically lives at her workplace, so I doubt she's being late on purpose.
Sleep deprivation is classed as torture. Even if you're a Type A personality, 4 hours is not enough to avoid issues with basic cognitive competence (at best) and general mental health (at worst).
While it's true that not everyone requires the exact, same sleep schedule or regimen, there is no human on Earth who can successfully go years and years on 4 hours or less every night. You'll pay that debt eventually, with interest. Maybe not today, and maybe not tomorrow, and maybe 20 years from now. But you'll pay it back. Often in the form of a heart attack, a stroke, or brain damage.
I am using conditional logic here because, like you, I have no idea what "invariably" really means here. Writers have a tendency to throw around words that sound good, without always considering the true extent of their meaning. As a sometime-writer, I suffer from this problem myself. "Invariably" is a tall claim, which is why I'd like to see the evidence for it before rushing to conclusive judgment.
Unless someone is on their way to the hospital, there really isn't a reason to leave someone hanging.
> Reared in Google’s data-obsessed culture, Mayer tended to require countless tests about user preferences before making an important product decision. But when it came to media strategy, she seemed perfectly comfortable going with her gut. As a teenager in Wisconsin, she grew up sneaking into the living room to watch “Saturday Night Live” and occasionally recited sketches during meetings; in April 2013, Yahoo paid an estimated $10 million per year for the “S.N.L.” archives. Even though the actress Gwyneth Paltrow had created a best-selling cookbook and popular lifestyle blog, Mayer, who habitually asked deputies where they attended college, balked at hiring her as a contributing editor for Yahoo Food. According to one executive, Mayer disapproved of the fact that Paltrow did not graduate college.
Well, I can think of one obvious difference between Mayer and Jobs...
Wow , sorry but wow. Paltrow is famous,more famous than Mayer will ever be.If this thing is true,it tells a bit about her personality.
In business,you want to associate with famous people that can drive their audience to your product.Does it matter they graduated or not?frankly?
Of course that doesn't mean I agree with assuming that no qualifications means can't do the job, but that's unrelated to her being a celebrity (and indeed a commonly debated question with two big groups of people on both sides).
This is what I was touching on downthread and I guess wasn't entirely clear: a contributing editor doesn't run anything.
They don't copy-edit other writers' work. They don't manage anyone. They don't touch anything related to the business backend.
It's a prestige title given to writers that generate an audience. That's it.
Or their agent.
So here was absolutely no reason not to hire Paltrow - even if she can't write her way out of a YouTube comments section.
Celebrity culture sells. It's kind of disappointing, but empirically it's what a lot of people want and will pay money for.
The reason I made my point was that judging someone based on not having a degree can be considered foolish, judging someone on not having a degree where a degree couldn't even be related isn't foolish it's just nonsense - so I gave Mayer the benefit of the doubt. But maybe I was wrong to?
If it's accurate that the position was for a contributing editor for a food blog, caring about a degree is completely nonsensical.
It's certainly possible that the story is inaccurate, but it seems to have been included in the article as an intentional example of bizarre decision making.
Paltrow wasn't going to run anything, contributing editors for the role she was being brought in for submit content and bring in readers based on their popularity, which she has a solid track record on. There isn't any "rest of the job" besides that.
I don't think Martha has the time to put together slideshows like this one.
A contributing editor job is essentially a writing position. That strongly indicates that she could do the job.
There's valuing a particular quality in an employee, and then there's being completely misguided in weighting that quality.
They get seven figure salaries not because they can write articles really well, but that they can bring an audience wherever they go and create revenue worth what they're getting paid
Basing hiring decisions for middle aged persons on their college record is incredibly foolish.
They were thinking about having her write/create content for yahoo. She has already successfully produced content for a long time on her blog. She was completely qualified for the job, but Mayer found a bullshit excuse not to hire her because she simply doesn't like Paltrow.
Generally speaking disqualifying someone for not having a degree is (in my opinion, and many others but plenty disagree too) foolish, but if you're only considering her for being famous then nobody would even bother finding out if she had a degree.
edit: By the way, if you want to reply to a comment and don't see the reply link (presume that happened to you? ignore me if not), click "link" for that comment and take it from there
Some how, I am getting impressions of HP's former CEO Carly Florina, while reading this article. Hope it won't end like that.
It appears Marissa Mayer is in hurry to prove something but without proper strategy. She is sort of mixing Apple's Steve Jobs way, netflix way, Google's data obsessive ways to somehow create some recipe for success.
I feel she has to cool down and make some original recipe rather than mixing from various other companies.Wall street, Yahoo Board and investors need to be told that turnaround may take at least five years and there should be no hurry in between just like HP's current CEO Meg Whitman did, irrespective of consequences. This can give her peace of mind and helps in creating a better strategy. It appears, she wants to rush but do not know where to and meanwhile falling. She has to slow down and rethink.
Also, this article can be condensed. It lists about yahoo from its start to previous CEO's, her hiring ...etc. Yahoo's past before Mayer may be irrelevant in the context of this article.If needed, URL to past article may be sufficient.
The run up to the Alibaba IPO was her window of opportunity to create new growth businesses within Yahoo. Since apparently those initiatives have failed to yield significant revenue or profit growth, she's done.
I think if those initiatives had paid off, we wouldn't be reading about her personal flaws and missteps, but about her managerial brilliance.
I was also disappointed in her comparing herself to Jobs taking 5 years to launch iPod. Yes, that was a home run for Apple, but the first thing Jobs did was shore up the existing Mac business and get it growing again, providing the needed stability to launch new initiatives.
Again, assuming the article has the gist of the story correct, she largely ignored the parts of Yahoo producing much of the current revenue to focus on new initiatives.
In general, comparing yourself to Steve Jobs is probably a mistake for any executive. It's like a rookie NBA player comparing himself to Michael Jordan. You're almost guaranteed to come off badly in the comparison.
- It could very well be a strategic leak.
- It's brazen tone suggests that she's very weak.
- It's much too long an article.
The one thing I'd differ is she did appear to have a strategy, it just didn't work. (Upscale media, original content, mobile emphasis, more sales, etc...)
I don't think she gets 5 years to execute on it.
"Is this a PR leak to prepare us for new CEO"
It also says decline is inevitable for all big companies, and the process is accelerated in tech companies (like everything else in their lifecycle). Turnarounds are rare, and no choice of CEO would have made a difference for Yahoo.
Good news, everybody! We're doing more and making less!
Yahoo isn't a products company -- it's a pile of cash with long audience reach. This isn't a bad thing (and indeed was the situation at Apple when Jobs returned), but it does mean that the company has lots of options but no core mission. The danger is that such a company can kill its cows while searching for stars.
It's hard to avoid the conclusion that Mayer has failed to develop any kind of coherent strategy, let alone execution. Instead, she appears to have substituted chaotic action as a metric of progress (new home pages every day! Purple everywhere!), mistaken her hobbies as evidence of expertise (e.g., deciding Yahoo could become a destination for high-end prêt-à-porter fashion consumers), and taken on high-concept strategies without any kind of plan for generating revenue and income (e.g., going deep on content). This doesn't even get to Yahoo's constant overpaying for startups that are inevitably killed by indigestion -- I like to say that VCs operate on the greater fool theory, and right now the greatest fool is Yahoo.
Couple this with what is evidently a tendency to micromanage without attention to detail, a constant reworking of HR aspects without any comprehension of how such changes affected loyal employees, and an almost imperial demeanor -- no surprise that her tenure is already being prepped for postmortems. Mayer's failures have at best led to drift and at worst burned the little remaining daylight left for Yahoo. Were I a major shareholder at the company, I think I'd rather have little Bobby and his nickel in charge than Marissa and her $2.08 billion.
This has been my impression since she got the gig -- that she doesn't really have a strategy, just a collection of tactics. So she runs around doing stuff and hoping that some of it will improve things.
For all the comparisons to Jobs, this approach shows a key difference, namely that Jobs had a strategy. When he took over Apple the first thing he did was brutally cut down the company's product lines. By the time he was done Apple really only sold four products: consumer and pro Mac, consumer and pro PowerBook. That was the entire Apple product line. This was a strategic decision: cut down to four products and absolutely nail the implementation of those products, rather than trying to have a half-baked product for every possible customer.
By contrast, think of Jobs at NeXT: he pursued a failing strategy because he was trying to innovate for innovation's sake (trying to build a 3M workstation without a proven market; building a totally-automated, world-class factory without enough orders to keep it operating; obsessing over minutiae like the handrail design at NeXT headquarters). The result was fantastic technology but a company whose promises had to wait for Jobs' return to Apple.
I like to think that Jobs' failure at NeXT was an educational experience for him; however, with Mayer, I'm not sure she can pull off a second act after what I expect to be an unceremonious ouster from Yahoo.
The strategy switch was the result of the company's failure to compete with workstation manufacturers like Sun, and the company's rapid drawdown of its cash. By the time NeXT exited the hardware business, they had revenues of about $125m/year, but operating at a loss; Canon, which was already into NeXT to the tune of $100m, floated another $30m plus a $55m line of credit. Jobs was also funding NeXT and his other project, Pixar, out of his own bank account, which left him severely depleted. (Previously, Ross Perot and, later, a consortium of universities had also invested in the company for about $150m combined.)
By cutting the hardware business, developing a mildly popular web server (WebObjects), and selling off assets like the Deer Park HQ, Jobs was able to eke a minor profit out of NeXT, but nothing that would justify the massive valuation investors accepted during its early days. Apple's purchase was indeed partially for its technology -- Apple had played around with a competing OS, Be, for its new OS layer, but ultimately passed -- but also to lure Jobs back.
In addition to the simpler product lines, there's also the design focus into that went into these fewer products, the iMac and iPod becoming iconic designs.
This article, while making good points, is written with a slant: to sell a book.
Broadly speaking, Marissa's big weakness is that she's a tad naive. She thinks too logically, and believes that if she has a system in place, it will be followed in spirit by logically-thinking people like herself. This may have worked in Google, because Google was heavily engineer-focused during its early years; but Yahoo is different: it's a (nearly) 20-year old company, with many people who are lifers. They have honed their skills at survival; and as one middle manager put it to me, "I've seen lots of CEOs; she'll also be gone, but I'll still be here". She can come up with the best laid plans; but the middle management will do what it thinks is in its best interest. And they look out for themselves, always.
One of the major reasons why she embarked on the acquihire spree was to do an end-run around these people. She knows that if she has to count on them, she won't get anything done.
This is also why she initiated the 'stack ranking' process. Her goal was noble: to weed out the underperformers. And yes, they did weed out a fair bit of deadwood. But the elephant in the room went untouched: the middle managers. There is no accountability for them! I've seen people join a manager's team and quit (or switch) within months; by any objective evaluation, he should have been fired a long time ago. And yet he survives, because he's been there a long time and knows how to play the game. I have also seen stellar performers quit because their manager was not willing to go to bat for them in the calibration meetings, so they always ended up with "achieves" (which is average, and forms the bulk (70%) of the ratings).
This article cherry picks mistakes; but who amongst us hasn't made a mistake? The HdC hiring was a big mistake, for sure. But once again: she was being naive, and thought he could deliver, when all he was doing was blowing smoke up her ass. She still can't get her mind wrapped around the smoke-and-mirrors that is sales, which is why Sales is still suffering. She needs a powerful, no-holds-barred Sales head, so she can go back to being a Product person.
People in HN can diss her all they want, but I was at a trade show, and half the outfits (startups) I talked to wanted to be bought out by Yahoo. Money talks; and right now she has gob loads of it that'll give her a lot of rope.
I was at Yahoo briefly (8 months, never again !) and middle management at Yahoo was absolutely the problem. A single SVP had 20 VPs and around a 100 Directors and Senior directors most of whom were lifers and 'career bureaucrats'. Less than 1% would be employable at another tech company.
The status quo at Yahoo before Marissa suits them just fine and they will always find ways to twist any effort from the top to their benefit.
QPRs are a classic example. It was intended to weed out under performers, but as the parent comment pointed out, the middle managers were the under performers. So they just made QPR evaluations into a secret, subjective process which they then used as a club to beat engineers who dared oppose them. Worked out pretty well for them, not so well for Yahoo. Anyone who was worth a damn found a new job pretty quickly.
Is naiveté something a CEO (of a massive company) should be given a pass on?
Microsoft occasionally does a "flattening" exercise where they go around and reduce the number of managers that exist.
Put a year moratorium on promotions to manager (sucks, existing managers get way overloaded), then a year later do another stack ranking exercise.
<< Aswath Damodaran, a professor at N.Y.U.'s Stern School of Business, has long argued about the danger of companies that try to return to the growth stage of their life cycle. These technology companies, he said, are run by people afflicted with something he calls the Steve Jobs syndrome. “We have created an incentive structure where C.E.O.s want to be stars,” Damodaran explained. “To be a star, you’ve got to be the next Steve Jobs — somebody who has actually grown a company to be a massive, large-market cap company.” But, he went on, “it’s extremely dangerous at companies when you focus on the exception rather than the rule.” He pointed out that “for every Apple, there are a hundred companies that tried to do what Apple did and fell flat on their faces.” >>
It's probably not a coincidence that Steve Jobs had Tim Cook there to manage core operations, while Steve spent a lot of time focused on reinventing the business.
For kids in particular who are outgrowing their entire wardrobe every 6-12 months, streamlining the process would be incredibly useful.
But I think you need one more thing -- you need branded product lines which set expectations on the product and consistently back them up. I think JCP, without the draw of a big sale, didn't have enough draw left over. No one showed up to ever see all those consistently great prices.
I also found it interesting that Microsoft wasn't mentioned once in the article, considering the fact that it makes much more sense to draw parallels between two software giants trying to turn themselves around (not to mention the fact that Yahoo search is run on Bing). Surely Microsoft is still considered a "Big tech" company?
MS market cap: 371.84B
Yeah, I'd say they're big and I'm not sure if they're trying to "turn themselves around." They're making money hand over fist, mostly from the enterprise end of things and Windows/Office licensing. Of course, they are doing poorly in the mobile arena, but that doesn't mean they're in financial straits.
Presumably Yahoo aspires to reach the level of [Apple, Amazon, Facebook, and Google], Microsoft is in the process of a major pivot so it probably wasn't considered an aspirational target (even if they do make massive amounts of money)
What I think the point is that all four companies operate very large online services. There's even significant overlap on a lot of key products: maps, messaging, email.
My suspicion is that Apple got a foot in the door with the intro of the Mac. And they have stayed there ever since via something similar to the old "nobody was ever fired for buying an IBM".
Around where i live i can almost tell who is taking media studies based on the kind of computer they pull out of the bag. If it is a Mac, they are doing media.
And thanks to that, the media people pay closer attention to Apple than they do most other tech companies.
And with media studies broadening to cover the web, i keep seeing more people defaulting to Mac as the dev platform for web.
They were the punching bag during most of the nineties. The company was in bad state (from 1993 to 1997 there were four different CEOs), their offerings too expensive, and with too few applications running on them and no clear strategy for the company. They were a relevant punching bag primarily because they were the only Non-Microsoft computer that people had ever heard of; and a lot of schools had Apple ][e's (a few macs, but many more Apple ][e's). The main place where Macs were managing to maintain some marketshare was in, as you have noticed, media and publishing. For a while, Photoshop was the primary killer app for the macs, and is still (last I checked) the de facto standard for it's domain.
Their image drastically improved when Jobs came back. He launched the "Think Different Campaign", the iMac's with the hockey puck mice (also, he got an injection of $150 million from Microsoft and a commitment from them to build the Internet Explorer for the Mac), and finally delivered a modern operating system (Mac Fans were in denial about how bad the OS was prior to X). Jobs provided a compelling narrative that the media loved telling, of a man banished from the company he founded, and returning to save it from destruction. Also, the perception was that he'd also have to take on Microsoft, so he had the whole "David and Goliath" thing going for him as well. The popularity of this story is effectively why something like "Pirates of Silicon Valley" got made.
I'm not entirely sure why mac laptops have gotten such traction in the dev community; but it's not because media studies is broadening to cover the web.
Macs have been since Jobs return as much of a status symbol as a productive device.
Combine that with the fact that OSX is a modern Unix, has BASH, and can run most GNU/Linux targeted software with only a C compiler.
THEN you have actually have competitively powered hardware running under the hood (i7 + 8GB of ram + 5+ hours of battery).
You actually get an all around fairly solid development machine that also acts as a socio-economic status symbol. Jobs did in fact know what he was doing.
Makes sense to me - it's a Unix with big-company support. Up until the last couple of years, running Linux on a laptop was a nightmare of compatibility and driver issues, and certainly not something most (i.e. non-big-4) companies would want to take on for a corporate fleet.
Windows' memory management was horrible at the time. I had to reboot a minimum of daily or my laptop ground to a halt. OSX hummed along for months between reboots.
I hate system administration on my own laptop. In the 30 minutes I have to code a personal project daily, I don't want to screw with drivers, updates, hardware, etc. I just want to code the next module in my project. The Linux distros at the time seemed to require more hands-on maintenance.
Over time other factors have become important. The same laptop I use for coding is the one I use to download music, store memorable photos, etc. The apps that come with OSX may not be "best of breed" - maybe they are, I'm not qualified to say - but they are more than good enough for my needs.
Despite great advances in Linux distros and the call to F# and LINQ on Windows, I'm Apple's customer to lose not others' customer to win.
> " Mayer also favored a system of quarterly performance reviews, or Q.P.R.s, that required every Yahoo employee, on every team, be ranked from 1 to 5. The system was meant to encourage hard work and weed out underperformers, but it soon produced the exact opposite. Because only so many 4s and 5s could be allotted, talented people no longer wanted to work together; "
Can somebody talk about his experience in the same conditions?
Rank-and-yank arguably worked well at GE because Welch was dealing with a large, unwieldy, and poor-performing conglomerate that had a lot of room for workforce reduction. But as the company got leaner and more effective, it got rid of the practice, and it's unclear why tech companies -- which one assumes haven't had time to get lazy and complacent -- jumped on the bandwagon.
In fact, theoretically, if you're constantly cutting the bottom 10-20% of performers, and the quality distribution of new hires remains constant, at some point you should have pulled up the overall quality of the organization. The fact that you can't create a perfect organization by constantly cutting the lowest quantiles suggests that either something's wrong with the ranking systems used (which there is!), or that the practice has deleterious effects on retention, behavior, and morale (which it does!).
Practically, this means that, as a manager, you get really good at piling up deadwood until the order comes down to swing the axe -- far easier to keep a few window-seat employees around to satisfy the Layoff Gods than to go to war every time you do your QPRs. You might also coordinate with lateral colleagues to move good employees around so you can keep them in the game.
In practice you see it applied in very large teams with team wide metrics. Like 1000 people in a call center. The guy who hacks the system or gets assigned to a special team that naturally results in better results, can consistently win every time.
While I can't speak to the intepersonal management practices, this article seems to feed the tech killing stockholder demand for quarterly profits.
The company is doing much better than before, but "not good enough."
Whether the conclusion is correct, this article, despite it's length, doesn't make a case for Mayer not achieving the long term goals so far. (edit: fixed some messed up wording)
Her most prominent changes, stack ranking and acqui-hires, are pretty bad in general (inciting cutthroat competition and burning cash for disloyal employees).
Regardless of Yahoo's recent results, Mayer seems to have alienated many people and made decisions that increasingly seem unlikely to achieve the long-term goals. Really, what has been accomplished?
- She went all-in on playing the app lottery by developing new apps in-house, and I don't think any of Yahoo apps have been real winners. However, she bolstered the app engineering force, which may pay off down the road as the mobile software landscape continues to evolve.
- She bought up a bunch of expensive start-ups seemingly at random. I figured these purchases might make sense in retrospect, when some grand design is revealed, but I'm still waiting.
- She made a big bet on online media that doesn't align with what people want to watch.
Google can afford to throw spaghetti against the wall because Google's search revenue is footing the bill. Yahoo seemingly adopted the same strategy in an attempt to identify its core business.
That's EXACTLY what they do. The same way the did before. Google was the default and people could easily change it to bing, duck duck go or whatever they wanted.
They still can but the default is Yahoo instead of Google.
Options > Search > Default search engine.
It's really easy.
I'd advice you to CHECK things before spreading this kind of disinformation.
Edit: Just confirmed. Installed FF 30. Turned off the option to receive search updates. Updated to latest, provider was still changed to Yahoo.
Firefox checks the pref value, and if it equals the default it considers it a reset and removes it from the prefs override file. There's no way to hard set the equivalent of the default value.
But as mentioned elsewhere, now that the default is Yahoo, changing it to Google should stick forever.
And now I have sponsored links when I open a new tab in Firefox, from Mozilla partners.
It's starting to stink. The Mozilla foundation is losing sight of their mission.
It all comes down to returns. Yahoo might be doing better, but if it's not doing as well as other potential investments, money will flow out of Yahoo into other, more productive companies.
You may have an issue in executive retention if bonuses are tied into stock value (but is that really a problem if they collectively didn't deliver value to the company?).
If you're trying to buy other companies it also may limit your options there too.
But in terms of generating revenue, I don't see how the stock price has any direct impact.
Holy crap. I must have taken a wrong turn in life. HOW?!
I'm sorry, but it's not just about one man returning. It's about a team led by one man.
* Left-to-right: nothing
* Right-to-left: taken to a new page!
Sweet. I love surprises. (this is on a desktop browser - chromium)
If only I could plug in a second mouse to pinch-to-zoom!
No extensions or plugins are active for nytimes.com. My UA spoofer was off as well.
What am I missing about the accounting?
A company can be profitable and still have a negative valuation, specifically if its liabilities outgrow its revenue. Generally, such companies become takeover targets if there's anything worth preserving. (Theoretically, the concept is that equity holders will take a discount on their shares because the company's poor prospects reduce liquidity in trade, and holding onto a share is seen as riskier than taking a lesser haircut now.)
The previous discussion is at https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=7606891.
In the case of Yahoo, the market believes that it will destroy a substantial portion of the value of their share of the Alibaba business by making bad investments into core Yahoo.
Yes, theoretically it is. However, the value (price) of something is not decided by some formula, it's decided by the market.
Think back to the real estate crash of 2007. Value was dictated by what people would pay, not by some calculation of value.
If you take $1bn from alibaba -> $1BN goes to shareholders.
If yahoo takes $1bn from alibaba -> they pay a hundred million for a golden parachute, stagnate tumblr with the other 500$, buy startups for $499 million and return some loose change and pocket lint to investors.
And the article goes on claiming that e-commerce and marketplaces, hardware, and ads are those few ways.
This can't be true considering how much money Netflix (subscription), AWS (metered pay), mobile games (IAP) are making.
It could as easily have started with "Marissa Mayer great!", and done the same (but with a different set of 'facts' and anecdotes).
The three ways of making money -- transaction fee, selling hardware, and selling ads -- exclude just paying for an internet service (where I would call subscription, metered, and IAP different ways for paying for a service).
You could call that a subset of e-commerce except that he defines e-commerce companies as those that "that profit from transactions occurring on their platforms," and uses Amazon, ebay and Uber as examples.
Also, they were presumably only talking about consumer web services. AWS doesn't fall into that category.
This seems to be missing part of the story. Didn't Yahoo! previously try hard to reinvent itself as primarily a "content" business under a CEO recruited from Hollywood, Terry Semel? IIRC it was Yahoo! failure to thrive using that strategy that got it into (relative) trouble in the first place.
Being a CEO is often a job of pulling teeth.
I'm guessing it's the second of these two for Marissa.
How ironic would it be Yahoo displaced Google, because Google had lost their focus on doing one thing (search) and doing it really well?
Microsoft has a 5 year head start and has spent billions on this and they are nowhere close to Google (I'm not even talking tech, just market share).
I think the only way to beat Google at this point is by winning the next war (Yahoo! already missed mobile). Just like no one beat Microsoft at operating systems or productivity software; the world just moved on from caring about those things. Of course, no one knows what the next battle will be.
Of course, beating Google is somewhat of a red herring; they don't necessarily need to lose for Yahoo! to win.
On the other hand, I did not think yahoo.com got better (yes i am a frequent user):
-Many changes has been made to Yahoo home pages but one would be hard pressed to find users that unequivocally liked the changes. It is still churning more of the low quality, info lacking and grammar error strewn articles. The only fun(if you are that bored) is in the comment section.
Lastly one has to wonder about her frequent tardiness. I am all for gender equality in the workplace but one has to wonder that trying to turn a massive company around as its CEO during and immediately after pregnancy is a good idea.
They've redesigned the Yahoo Finance homepage but they've really trashed it. Recent quotes rarely works, the page is cluttered, they constantly link to articles that start auto playing some obnoxious video. Their financial data is good though and the stock quote pages haven't changed much so the internals are OK. There's a stuff they could do to improve it, but given their track record, I hope they don't try.
The irony is that Yahoo! Finance's users presumably have money since they're looking for investment news, so you'd think that those ads would be especially lucrative.
One thing I do like is that they have several financial writers on tumblr now and they link to that content from the Finance home page. Those tumblrs are actually some of the best content on Finance.
Didn't she have an in-office nanny taking care of everything?
It's more likely she's losing her mind from that 4 hours of sleep.
Of course, that is one great reason to take maternity/paternity leave.
Something executives seem to not be able to understand: Experience counts.
Its one thing to ride the wave of success when you are in at the beginning. Its something entirely more difficult to right a large, floundering ship when you have never actually been captain.
I see where Smith is coming from, but that doesn't make his case any less unsettling. Do some economists really believe that the "right" thing to do is fire thousands of people?
Are a company's shareholders really more important than its employees?
Yes. The idea is that they'd be more productive in other companies (or start their own). In a country with decent employee protections, unemployment provisions, and public healthcare, it can even be more-or-less true.
> Are a company's shareholders really more important than its employees?
Yes. With employees, there is a contract, which in some fictional-economics sense was a negotiated agreement between equals, so the company only has those obligations laid out in that contract (just as with bondholders). With shareholders there is no contract, instead the company has a fiduciary duty to act in their best interests.
However, as the concept of work to rule (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Work-to-rule) shows, employees don't treat themselves as being only obligated to do what their contracts specify, and it would be disastrous if they did. Similarly, managers view themselves as owing something to their employees that's not specified in the contract.
Hostile takeovers often work by going into a company and breaking all the relationships of trust that previously existed. By doing that, you can often cut costs in ways that the previous management couldn't do. (Here's the paper, though I confess I've only read the summaries of it: http://www.nber.org/chapters/c2052.pdf)
Jack Welsh never did believe it.
Shareholders in this sense actually represent financial responsibility.
One could argue that Yahoo! has been hurting it's employees by failing it's shareholders (financial obligations). As a result, massive layoffs will be required, whereas if Yahoo! had maintained it's health, it's numbers would have grown/shrank organically.
In this sense, the Alibaba money only delayed, and made worse the correction to Yahoo!'s underlying business model.
I don't understand the synergy with AOL at all. What does AOL bring to the table?
AOL and Yahoo are not beholden to provide for their employees in perpetuity. That's a very Japanese mindset.
This 1996 Microsoft Developer's Conference is one of my favorite Steve Jobs presentations http://channel9.msdn.com/Events/PDC/PDC-1996/PDC-1996-Keynot...
My guess is that she was able to cover it up well at Google by burying everybody in data-driven decision making processes and working hard. But a data-driven decision making process about creative stuff is precisely the kind of approach an emotionally disconnected person would use as a tool to do their job.
She was a long-shot try for CEO and has done some good things. But it may be time for her to move on. My sympathies for whatever group ends up with her in charge next.
Replying to an email with a smiley emoticon because you ruined someone's career when all the person did was exactly what their fucking job expects them to do is kind of a psychopathic thing to do.
Also, starting and running a wage-fixing ring that inflicts the most damage upon those upon which you rely the most to make you wealthy is also kind of a psychopathic thing to do.
This theory of course cannot be proven, however the closest evidence we may have is AOL.